Last night at a dinner party I was given the book California Surfing and Climbing in the Fifties ($32). It came out a year and a half ago but I had never seen it. This is a special book in that it's not just capturing an aesthetic of an era or a niche sport's golden era—although it does that really well, it tells a story about Americans in the 50s. Yvon Chouinard, one of the book's three authors, said it so well in his intro:
"The fifties were easy years in California. With full employment from the Korean War, we were enjoying all the fruits of the fossil fuel culture. Gas was a quarter a gallon, used cars could be bought for twenty-five dollars, campgrounds were free, and you could easily live off the excess fat of society. Those of us in the countercultures of climbing and surfing were, as climber Peter Sinclair said, the last free Americans."